Written by Tania Edwards

Voices

Wishful thinking

When her mate was caught in a phishing net, it got Tania Edwards thinking about why – and when – we’re vulnerable to certain scams. Are any of us immune?

fishing hookRecently a friend was thrilled to report that she is due a modest tax rebate – to be transferred to her account within 24 hours.

“What perfect timing!” she exclaimed. She was radiant. Positively post-coital.

“Did they email you?” I ventured reluctantly.

“Yup.”

“And did you give them all of your account details?”

If J makes a mistake she always sucks in her cheeks and looks ahead quizzically, as if she’s counting sheep, before remembering to look cheery and changing the subject. That morning her ponderous expression lingered. It was mixed with disappointment, but still twitched with hope.

I told her to pull up the email. It was peppered with spelling errors and an unlikely speech about rebating tax to the honest majority while making sure that the dishonest minority didn’t get away with whatever they were trying to get away with.

But how could she have noticed any of that when she was so busy filling out her card details to facilitate a refund?

Phishing though: I never understand how these outrageous spam scams find enough fools to function. “You have wun munny”; “Get unbending erections”; “He’s away, come ASAP”; “Shy neighbour waiting for you.”

“I don’t believe in hell or damnation. I was never shaken by the ouija board experiments at school. I boldly step on cracks. Sometimes I recklessly throw salt over my right shoulder instead of my left. But now I was afraid.”

Maybe I don’t understand because I know two inches isn’t enough to make me a man. Perhaps I’m not vulnerable to this kind of phishing because I haven’t been pining after my shy neighbour. (Although now that I think of it, I did once have a neighbour who was so good-looking he made taking the rubbish out exciting for a year. Perhaps if I’d received a “shy neighbour waiting for you” email back then I’d have knocked on his door or sent my bank details to the Ukraine.)

There’s no doubt that when you’re looking for something, you’re easier to take advantage of. Because you’ll believe anything.

Years ago when I lived in a garret in Paris, I came back to London for a few days to catch up with friends. At one party a bohemian read my palm. She was full of praise and positivity. I admit I was pretty pleased that my future looked so promising. Few people could see past the fact I was aimlessly waiting tables mid-existential crisis – until she did.

About a year later I met the same girl again. I could barely contain my excitement/keep my sceptic cool. Sure I was still waiting tables, but maybe I would soon be doing something else in gay Paris, like mixing cocktails or cleaning toilets. Again she read my palm. This time she was extremely negative. It didn’t bother me. I always think criticism, particularly harsh, personal criticism, is about to lead to a compliment. But she stopped talking. She turned away. She turned back. “I can’t go on with my reading,” she said.

I’m not a believer. I don’t believe in hell or damnation. I was never shaken by the ouija board experiments at school. I boldly step on cracks. Sometimes I recklessly throw salt over my right shoulder instead of my left. But now I was afraid.

For the next few weeks after my return I lay on my thin single mattress in my chambre de bonne listening to the broken window bat against the ledge in time to my trembling heart. What could go wrong with my perfect life? What terrible thing had she seen?

I was tortured. Full of fear like a Catholic in lust with her brother-in-law. It was nonsense. But I couldn’t help it.

Until one day I did. I just decided not to believe in an idea that was making me unhappy. And I was cured. It was as simple as that.

Today when I really want something, I try to remind myself that I have to make it happen. I am responsible. It’s the only way to avoid the dragnet of those dangerous phishermen. But we are all sometimes vulnerable to a ruse.

Anyway, J cancelled her card. And I’ve bought her a lottery ticket. Nothing wrong with keeping hope alive.

@taniaedwards

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Written by Tania Edwards

Tania Edwards is a standup comedian and writer.